A plan to close Henderson city offices during the last week of the year won approval from the City Council on Tuesday.
Police and fire personnel and a skeleton crew of other emergency workers will remain on the job, but all other city offices will be shuttered between Christmas and New Year’s.
Henderson Human Resources Director Fred Horvath said the move will allow the city to “save” more than $600,000 in immediate payroll costs by converting holiday pay to vacation time.
The city’s agreement with the Teamsters union designates Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as paid holidays, even when they fall this year on regularly scheduled days off. Rather than pay union workers cash for those holidays on top of their regular wages, the city instead wants to observe the three holidays on Dec. 27, 28 and
To get the union to sign off on the change, the city is giving workers one additional day off with pay, Dec. 30, and closing city offices for the entire four-day workweek.
Horvath said the trade-off is a week of lost productivity, though in this case it will come during the least productive week of the year when most city employees are on vacation anyway.
Teamsters Local 14 represents roughly 700 of Henderson’s 1,850 full-time employees, but the schedule change applies to all city workers except those emergency personnel scheduled to work that week.
City Council members approved the week off, but not before Mayor Andy Hafen and Councilwoman Gerri Schroder thanked city employees for “stepping up” with concessions to help Henderson through the financial downturn.
But Councilman Steve Kirk, who ultimately voted yes on the matter, seemed less enthusiastic.
“Only in government could we give people a (paid) day off and say we’re saving money,” he said.
Kirk went on to suggest that if Dec. 30 tends to be the least productive day each year, as Horvath and others have said, perhaps the city should consider making it a mandatory furlough day in the future. Horvath said that idea likely will be discussed in future union negotiations.
With Tuesday’s vote, Henderson joins Las Vegas and North Las Vegas in closing down between Christmas and New Year’s, though workers in the other two cities will be taking unpaid furlough days that week as part of their own union budget concessions.